Salt Lake City

Public Lands Department

Tree Care Information

Tree Watering


In Salt Lake City’s hot and dry climate, trees need to have supplemental watering to survive. Urban Forestry provides most services for trees located in the public right of way. However, there are still some responsibilities for the property owner adjacent to public trees. It is the responsibility of the adjacent property owner to water trees—in other words, if the tree is in YOUR parkstrip, it’s YOUR responsibility to water it!

Urban Forestry provides a watering bag with each newly planted tree. The watering bag is not meant as the sole source of water for the tree; instead, it’s meant to keep the roots moist in between deep watering with a hose. Learn how to take care of your tree below!

How to Water Your Tree

Newly planted trees need to be watered 1-2 times per week in spring and fall and 2-3 times per week in summer. Water the mulched area directly with a hose, for 5-10 minutes, and then fill the watering bag if it is empty. 

  • Water Down to the Roots: Tree roots are usually 18-24” deep. Deep watering encourages roots to grow down in the soil which helps achieve proper anchorage for the tree.
  • Use a Hose, Not a Sprinkler: Watering with a sprinkler will NOT saturate the soil to the proper depth and most of the water is lost to runoff and evaporation. Use a hose instead!
  • After 2 Years, Ditch the Bag: When the tree has been in the ground for 2 years, remove the water bag and discard it (or store it for later use on a different tree). The tree’s roots will be beyond the bag after 2 years and the most effective means of watering is direct watering with a hose.
  • Keep Watering Your Tree: As the tree grows, it will continue to need supplemental water for its entire life. The exact amount of water is variable but generally, 5-10 gallons per inch of trunk diameter is recommended. Water should be applied evenly at a low flow rate until the soil is saturated to a depth of 18”.

Need extra tips or reminders to water? Watch the video and download the Urban Forestry Watering Calendar/Watering Guide below!

What We Are Doing

Since 2020, Salt Lake City has planted 1,000 new trees each year—especially focused in areas of the City that have traditionally had fewer trees and less greenspace, like Westside neighborhoods. We need your help to care for the newest trees in our urban forest! Thank you for supporting the new trees.

See a Tree in the Parkstrip that Needs Help?

Urban Forestry does the best we can to monitor and maintain all the trees that make up the urban forest. However, with 85,000 trees, we need help from the adjacent property owners! If the park strip tree adjacent to your property looks stressed, it could be due to a number of factors and requires a trained arborist to determine the appropriate course of action. Keep a close eye on the park strip tree(s) near your property and call Urban Forestry as soon as you suspect a problem, so we can provide service to the tree before it is too late.

Mulching & Pruning 101

Providing mulch around a tree has numerous benefits, but it needs to be done correctly or it will do more harm than good. Mulch should be 2-4 inches thick and extend to the drip line of the tree. Mulch should be in an even flat layer, not piled up around the tree and no mulch should be touching the trunk.

Pruning of all city trees (growing between the sidewalk and road) is done by the Salt Lake City Urban Forestry Program. Call our office for an evaluation if the park strip tree is in need of pruning. A permit is required prior to any pruning of city trees. All tree pruning shall be performed in accordance with the Utah Shade Tree Pruning Standards or the American National Standard Institute for Plant Maintenance: ANSI A300 (Part 1)-2001. NO TREE TOPPING OR HEADING BACK.

for ANSI Standards:

American National Standards Institute
25 West 43rd Street # 4
New York, NY 10036-7406

for Utah Shade Tree Pruning Standards:
Utah Community Forest Council
P.O. Box 961
Salt Lake City, UT 84110-0961

Tree FAQs ↗

Do you still have unanswered questions about caring for your tree? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions and answers.

Tree Service Request ↗

The Urban Forestry Program provides most services related to the maintenance of Salt Lake City trees.

Other Tree Request ↗

To request service or a permit to have private service provider plant, prune, and/or remove a city tree, contact the Urban Forestry Office.